Saturday, January 07, 2006

More Gifts from the Garden

By Christina VanGinkel

Besides drying flowers, there are a few other projects you can create with both fresh flowers, the garden itself, or by harvesting the seeds from some of your favorites. They are a fun and creative way to share your garden with friends and family that may not be able to enjoy your garden, as they are not living close by.

Creating shaker cards with your flower heads is a fun way to send a bit of your garden across the country via good old postal mail service. With a bit of vinyl that can be purchased in your local craft department or ordered online from a site such as Joann's, you can soon be sending a bit of your garden cross-country. I use a vinyl called Heat and Bond that is very flexible, and can be sewn or used iron on style. I seal three edges of two pieces together, pop in a fresh flower head or bud, a couple if they are small, then seal up the fourth side. I then place this little clear wonder of flowers into the cut out opening of a card that I handcraft from colored cardstock. Similar to the shaker style cards that arrive in your mail from friends announcing things like baby showers and other parties; these are made with the fresh flowers in place of the confetti normally inserted into the little pouches.

You could make a similar style card, but in place of the fresh flower head, insert paper flowers or a color snapshot of your garden in bloom, and toss in seeds for the flowers you would like to share with the recipient of the card. Handcrafted paper is another unique way to share the seed bounty from your garden. Do a search online for making paper, or buy a book about this fun to do craft. Because you will be instructing others to plant the paper after reading it, be sure to use only one hundred percent natural material in the paper making process itself. Also, tell anyone that you gift with the paper to hand write on the sheets only and never put it into a computer printer. The reason for this advice is that the seeds could easily come loose from the paper, and become lodged in a printer, possibly causing damage to the machine. Once you have assembled all your needed supplies, gather an assortment of both annual and perennial seeds. You can also use dried flowers to add to the texture and appearance of the paper. When you mix the paper, it might be fun to keep track of what seeds you have added to what batch, and try to plant a sheet on your own next spring, so you know what you are sharing. Be sure to provide instructions as to how you made the paper, so they can possibly pass the tradition on by making their own the following year, and how to plant the paper, which is simply soak it in water and plant as you would any other seeds.

Photograph your garden when it is in full bloom; zoom in on a single flower, or over a span of several days, catching a bud as it first starts to open, all the way, until it is open in all its glorious color. If you do this last suggestion, open the photographs in your favorite photo editing software and create a collage of the flower from its earliest inception until it is fully bloomed, or set up in the order you would on a filmstrip, or some other creative way where the results will show the flower's progression from bloom to flower. Then use the pictures in note cards to send family and friends just because, as a thank you, or a thinking of you card.

A flower garden is such a glorious thing that it seems almost wasteful not to share it in some small way with those around you. Besides these projects, remember that nursing homes and hospitals often welcome bouquets for their greeting areas or even patient rooms, but do call ahead and inquire of their policies. If your garden is an abundant one, share it with other, so that you can experience one of your garden's greatest gifts of all, the gift of giving.

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